For many decades, the industry has used the Injury and Illness Incident Rates used by OSHA to measure the effectiveness of their safety programs. These rates represent the number of recordable injuries and illnesses occurring among a given number of full-time workers over a given period of time. They help in determining the injury and illness recurrence, over time, in your facility and to compare your company's record with that of the industry as a whole. They also help you in identifying problems in your workplace as well as trends of improvement in your safety performance.

Three separate, but similar, incident rates are regularly calculated throughout the industry:

  1. OSHA Recordable Cases,

  2. Cases with Days Away from Work, and

  3. Total Days Away from Work. In order to calculate these rates, a simple mathematical formula is used:

    • Formula (available in full paper).

where, depending on what the incident rate is that you need to calculate, X could be:

  1. the number of OSHA recordable cases for the facility,

  2. the number of cases which involved days away from work, or

  3. the total number of days away from work.

The 200,000 figure in this formula provides the standard base for calculating the incident rates and represents the number of hours worked by 100 employees during 50 weeks per year at 40 hours per week.

Although these rates provide each employer with a good idea of their safety performance at any given moment during the year, the results are only a reflection of what has already occurred in the workplace and does not provide you with a tool to proactively identify existing risks in the workplace.

Safety Index: A Leading Indicator

The Safety Index is a concept that was developed as a tool to proactively measure the effectiveness of the safety programs implemented in the Baxter Healthcare Corp. operation in Jayuya, Puerto Rico. The concept was created in 2002 as an effort to keep improving the safety performance of the facility and to generate more consciousness and accountability at all levels throughout the facility. This Index is based on the concept of leading indicators, rather than on lagging indicators, and its purpose is to identify any existing risks and eliminate them before they cause an accident. Leading indicator is a term used to describe metrics linked to track actions that need to be taken to prevent accidents. On the contrary, trailing or lagging indicators (e.g. incidence rates) are measurements related to events or accidents that have already occurred.

The Index is not a safety program, but an excellent tool or system to measure the effectiveness of the program. It is based on individual safety elements aimed at driving a site's safety performance while achieving changes in the safety culture.

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